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The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells

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This is a guest post by Marie Sumner – and yes it is about a short novel, not a short story, but I felt it was good enough to make an exception. I hope you enjoy it!

The Island of Dr. Moreau is an 1896 science fiction novel by H.G. Wells. It follows a man trapped on an island filled with genetically mutated creatures and brings up questions about what separates men from beasts.

Holy Hyena-Swine!

There are some really cool mixtures of creatures in this book. Wells is descriptive but still leaves room for the reader to imagine different combinations of creatures would look like. He also goes beyond physical traits and gives the Fox-Bear witch traits that are traditional to both creatures, in a very personified way. After all, these creatures are not only a mixture of the animal parts they are made of, they are part human as well.

Non-Spoiler Summary

Edward Prendrick is shipwrecked near an island where Dr. Moreau, a shunned scientist from London, has decided to conduct his genetic experiments. Prendrick must not only come to terms with the outlandish creatures he encounters, but he must overcome the many dangers from the wild animals and his human host.

Though short for a novel, this book is packed with intrigue and character. Prendrick forms several attachments throughout the story, making both friends and enemies on the island. It is interesting to observe his reactionary instincts as opposed to those of the animals.

This story is very dark and keeps the reader on edge. It is meant to make you question of very basics of humanity, which it does well. As such, it is not a particularly comfortable read, but it is a great one. Be sure to read it when you’re in the mood to philosophize, not to escape to a happy place.

Some Interesting Tidbits

  • Word Count: 43,498 (126 pages)
  • H.G. Wells wrote The Island of Dr. Moreau in response to the growing discussion in Europe at the time regarding degeneration and animal vivisection. The books sparked even more discussion and inspired the founding of several groups dedicated to research on the moral implications of the matter.

Where to Find

  • The Island of Dr. Moreau can be found in the free domain. Here is a link to the text on Bartelby’s.

Stories like this one

  • HP LoveCraft’s short stories, some of which are available free on his site, hplovecraft.com, have a similar dark tone to Well’s writing.

Marie Sumner enjoys writing about art (especially movies and TV), fashion and culture. She writes for Costume Super Center so that she can get cool ideas about star trek uniforms and ways she can incorporate fake blood into her every day wardrobe.